I’m sitting here in a city that I’ve never been to ,drinking coffee, ready to write something amazing. I know I’ll be inspired to write great things because I’m not one bit distracted. Just me and Jesus. I don’t know anyone here so I won’t have to talk to anyone. I don’t have any responsibilities but to sit here and think and pray and let words fly from my fingers. I’m in my little invisible shell where nothing and nobody can bother me. I don’t even have to worry about my phone because it’s sitting next to me , a little black box with no power! There’s NOT EVEN ANY WIFI HERE!!! Will I survive this afternoon?!? Somebody fan me before I pass out!!
But Lawdybeeeeee. The lake! The ducks! The dog walkers! The saxophone music wafting into my ear space from somewhere! All the conversations happening around me! There is SO much right here to look at and listen to. I have fallen prey to the monster of distraction! Even the things that should’ve brought a peaceful distraction-free afternoon have become preoccupations for me.
Distractions! Can we truly escape them, especially in this “always connected” space of time we live in? In our own strength, chances are the pull towards the distractions will win. We won’t get anything productive done. We’ll make one time zapping decision after another. Our ears will tune in to the conversations of 21 year old strangers nearby. Not only do I know they’re all 21 , I also know most of their names (first and last), where they’re from and that 90% of all the people in their “plan” are hooking up. The only thing I didn’t learn from intently overhearing these yung-uns talking was what the “plan” was. I’m sure it was college stuff…the plan. I wonder if they’ll ever achieve their goals with all the shenanigans obviously going on amongst them!
I was not trying to hear every word of these kids’ conversations. They were sitting so close, though. And not exactly whispering. And my phone was dead, remember? So I couldn’t turn on my favorite Christian music, pop in my ear buds and tune them out. Their words became the music in my ears and I. WAS. DISTRACTED !! (Btw, this photo isn’t of the shenanigan loving folks I had fallen audience to. My phone had died by then and I couldn’t get a real picture of them…not that I would take pictures of random strangers in a city not my own! The nerve!! )
FAST FORWARD TWO DAYS…..because I became too distracted to do another dog gone thing on that breezy coffee shop patio. As I look back on this moment of my weekend, I realize I learned something valuable about myself. Something I’ve known all along, honestly. Try as I may to do the important things. Try as I may to keep my eyes on the prize and my ear to the voice of God, I . GET. DISTRACTED. I’m not immune to any shape , form, or fashion of a “bunny trail” life throws in my path. When I allow these diversions to change my course for the day, they become the boss of me and my day is no longer my own.
Let me just throw this out here. If you are a believer like me, you likely grasp the fact that God has a plan for your life. A good and perfect and amazing plan even. But did you know that the enemy also has a plan for us?
“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”2 Corinthians 11:3
There is nothing that delights the devil more than to see us be totally and mind numbingly distracted from anything God has for us. He wants our actions and our thoughts to be so self absorbed and so far from a “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” that we barely even notice him at work. When I realize how little effort it takes to be sidetracked away from fun and easy things, how much more effort must the enemy put into leading us astray from the harder things God has for us? And by “harder”, I mean the more important things. Like feeding the hungry. Telling a friend about Jesus. Praying with someone who is hurting or sick. The things that will make a difference for the kingdom. You better believe that the sneaky snakey devil is gonna work overtime to make sure we feel inadequate or scared or unworthy to do such things. We’ll be reminded how cozy and quaint our little comfort zone is. And those things in and of themselves are enormous distractions
So Self? (Because I needed this reminder more than anyone!) Be aware! Sometimes it’s just cute dogs and soothing saxophone music that will serve to distract from the task at hand. Those things I’m totally aware of. But other times the distractions from the big, amazing God things may come completely from a different direction. I may not even see the distractions as distractions but more of a “Me doing Me” sorta thing.
So for Me and Everyone Else who has an ounce of desire to do things God’s way, here are some reminders of how to overcome these “my way is the best way ” distractions…
Abide in God. Keep Him close.
Let His word sink deeply into your soul. Fill your mind with so many of His truths that there simply is no room for the lies of the distractions.
Don’t push Him to your backburner. Keep Him in the forefront of your mind. Wake up thanking Him for the breath in your lungs and the beating of your heart. Talk to Him throughout the day.
Love Him more than you love your own way of doing anything. There is power and confidence in that true love.
I love how the Message phrases the “abide in Me” verses in 1John 2 . I will leave you with verses 24 and 25 and my prayer that you , too, can overcome the distractions in your life by staying with what you heard from the beginning.
“Stay with what you heard from the beginning, the original message. Let it sink in to your life. If what you heard from the beginning lives deeply in you, you will live deeply in both Son and Father. This is exactly what Christ promised: eternal life, real life!”